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Power of attorney document as important as living will

I am writing to commend you for the editorial "Written directives key in medical emergencies" (Towson Times, March 23). I hope that it will stimulate people to have a living will document. It is an important document. My wife and I have had one for years. But there is another document that is of equal, or perhaps more, importance that should be held along with a living will. That document is a durable power of attorney for health care.

The living will instructs health-care providers and others what a person desires in the event that they are unable to make their wishes known. With the durable power of attorney for health care, individuals appoint a representative ("agent") to make decisions for them when they are no longer able to do so. This would have been a great help in Terri Schiavo's situation.

In Ms. Schiavo's situation, a living will would have been helpful; a durable power of attorney for health care would have been even more so. If she had made her husband her representative in a durable power of attorney for health care, he could have, legally, made all of the decisions in her behalf. This would have made unnecessary the tensions and disagreements between her parents and her husband. And it would have avoided the intrusion into their lives by Congress and would have eliminated the need for the drawn-out series of court hearings/actions.

My wife and I have both documents, and we would strongly encourage others to do the same.

C. R. Shallenberger

Power of Attorney



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